April 24th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

The European country that didn't contract

Editor's Note: Throughout the week, Ruchir Sharma will be posting thought-provoking questions with answers and explanations on CNN.com/GPS.  Be sure to check out his excellent new book Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles.

By Ruchir Sharma – Special to CNN

Question: What was the only economy in Europe that did not suffer a contraction in the global debt crisis of 2008-2009?

Answer: Poland.

Explanation:  Ever since it broke from the Soviet Union back in 1989, Poland has been racing to make up for last time, as a member in good standing of Western Europe. Today Warsaw is the far side of the moon from the decadence and growing indebtedness of Moscow. Poland is staid, predictable, with no wild parties even on weekdays or outrageous displays of new wealth. Since joining the European Union in 2004, Poland has been working hard to meet the additional requirements of joining the Eurozone, which sets very specific targets for government deficits, debt, and other keys to economic stability like inflation and long-term interest rates. While many states that already belong to the Eurozone (from Greece to Spain) failed to achieve these targets, Poland largely succeeded, which is why it was in such good position to weather the crisis of 2008.

Today things look so good that Poland has the most vibrant labor market in Europe, creating jobs at a pace so rapid that many immigrant Poles are returning from the United Kingdom and other hard-hit nations to find work at home. Poland's success was quite unusual - the only other EU economy in a similar position is the Czech Republic - but it does show that Europe can be a model for growth, at least for those who follow the rules.

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Topics: Economy • Europe

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Rabbi

    Israel has no such problems..

    What stupid Americans seem not to understand, is that Jews are chosen people.

    We will reap the rewards of our faithful service to Yahweh.

    The goyim of this world should be happy to fight over the scraps that we Jews throw from table.

    Israel will reign supreme over earth, and anybody challenging that assertion will be conquered, with the help of US military.

    You people may not like us Jews, but you WILL learn to fear us.

    If a few of you must die to save a few of us....that's a bargain we can live with. Your own nations agree with me on this.

    Your sacrafices are necessary to ensure the survival of the only democracy in the middle east.

    April 24, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Come on Rabbi, Israel is not a European country and Ruchir was asking about Europe.

      April 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Reply
    • Kuato Lives

      And people say Muslims are the extremists...

      April 24, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Reply
      • ✠ RZ ✠

        Don't be surprised if Rabbi is a fraud using reverse psychology to provoke anti-semitic sentiment. About as pathetic as the guy whose been hijacking handles for the past while. Unbelievable slime.

        April 24, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Soko

      It's a shame of Religion that it makes some of its' followers ignorant. First off, I highly doubt that a "god" exist. That is another debate. Next, it is also highly unlikely that god would have a "chosen" people given that he would allow millions of them to die (the Holocaust). Faith seems to be ambiguous as it is shown that African countries have higher rates of belief than European countries. It seems that if you want to be "blessed," and by blessed I mean less suffering, than it would seem that it is more advantageous to be an atheist than a believer by this standard. The hypocrisy of religion is too great of a task for me to explain in such a limiting fashion to a limited mind.

      April 25, 2012 at 12:08 am | Reply
  2. George Patton

    The answer to your question Ruchir, is quite easy. That country was Germany. But then again, the Germans always had a strong economy, generally speaking. In fact, that was one more factor that contributed to the outbreak of WW1 because it aroused the British, because of the inferior quality of their durable goods, who at that time were falling further and further behind in their exports in spite of the fact that they were the world's leading colonial power!!!

    April 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Reply
    • Sebastian

      Actually, Germany did contracted in 2009.


      April 24, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    The power that drives Poland's economy – the fastest-growing one in the E.U. – comes from the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Coal produces around 93% of Poland's electricity and the industry employs more than 100,000 people. It's a cheap way to produce energy but it also gives the government an enormous headache, as it tries to maintain economic growth and also meet ever-stricter E.U. greenhouse gas emission targets.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    The Czech Republic has a highly-developed economy and exports manufactured goods, machinery, cars and transport equipment, beer. Poland has vast swaths of agricultural land. Yet farming proves to be unwieldy and inefficient. Its main industries are machinery and transport equipment, foodstuffs, chemicals.

    April 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • Sebastian

      Agriculture in Poland accounts for whopping 4,6% of GDP 🙂

      From wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Poland ).
      GDP by sector agriculture: 4.6%; industry: 28.1%; services: 67.3% (2009 est.)

      It would be nice if you updated your stereotypes.

      April 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  5. ✠ RZ ✠

    And interestingly enough the Pols and Czechs are 2 of the Eurozone countries that have not yet adopted the Eurobuck either. Hardly something that could be called a trend, but interesting.

    April 24, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  6. joe anon 1

    cheap labor and no oligarchs stealing helps.

    April 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  7. Benedict

    When you cut your coat according to your size,everthing fits!!

    April 27, 2012 at 4:09 am | Reply

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